San Francisco firefighters and city officials hold a ceremony to commission a new fireboat at McCovey Cove in San Francisco, Calif. Monday, October 17, 2016. (Wesaam Al-Badry/Special to S.F. Examiner)

San Francisco firefighters and city officials hold a ceremony to commission a new fireboat at McCovey Cove in San Francisco, Calif. Monday, October 17, 2016. (Wesaam Al-Badry/Special to S.F. Examiner)

SF commissions newest fireboat on anniversary of Loma Prieta quake

San Francisco welcomed its newest fireboat, dubbed “The St. Francis,” on Monday, 27 years to the day after the Loma Prieta Earthquake struck the Bay Area.

The earthquake anniversary was chosen to commission the new boat because when the temblor hit in 1989, a fireboat was credited with saving the Marina District from greater destruction by providing a critical source of water when local water lines collapsed.

The St. Francis, which took two years to build, possesses the latest technology that allows the boat to act as a floating pump and lay water lines to fight fires. It has a cutting-edge radar system and an infrared-sensor system to determine any heat signatures — even in the water.

“The technology is completely different,” Pilot Joel Delizonna said at Monday’s event celebrating the new boat at Seal Plaza at McCovey Cove. “[The old fireboat] was like a 60-year-old car and now you have a brand new car.”

The boat cost $11.7 million, with $8 million coming from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and approximately $3.2 million from The City. While not specifically considered a rescue boat, it does have an onboard infirmary with a staff paramedic on duty.

Out of 300 entries, 8-year-old Nico Rivera came up with the winning boat name. He is the son of Fire Department Capt. Tony Rivera. Nico said he thought of the name after thinking about The City’s name.

“It feels really, really great,” Rivera said when asked about naming the boat. “I felt really proud. I am proud to be from San Francisco.” Before the name was announced, Nico Rivera read a poem written by a San Francisco firefighter in 1935.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Mayor Ed Lee, Fire Commissioner Francee Covington, Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White and other dignitaries were on hand to welcome the new boat. Feinstein, who christened the boat, recalled when she was mayor there were calls to decommission the fireboats as a cost-saving measure.
.
But the Loma Prieta earthquake proved the need for these special boats, Feinstein said. She described the fireboat as The City’s “save point” should something happen, and “a portable hydrant” when needed.

Feinstein also acknowledged San Francisco’s retired Assistant Fire Chief Frank Blackburn’s contribution as being instrumental in creating the floating fire-fighting system. Blackburn designed an aboveground, portable line system to pump water directly from the fire boat. She said the technology he created was used in Rwanda and was credited with saving 140,000 lives.

The St. Francis joins two other city fire boats, The Guardian and The Phoenix. A decision on decommissioning The Phoenix has yet to be determined. fireboatLoma Prieta EarthquakeMayor Ed LeeSan FranciscoSFFDThe St. Francis

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

A view of Science Hall at the City College of San Francisco Ocean campus on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
CCSF begins search for next chancellor amid new challenges

‘It’s arguably the biggest single responsibility the board has,’ trustee says

Some people are concerned that University of California, San Francisco’s expansion at its Parnassus campus could cause an undesirable increase in the number of riders on Muni’s N-Judah line.<ins></ins>
Will UCSF’s $20 million pledge to SFMTA offset traffic woes?

An even more crowded N-Judah plus increased congestion ahead cause concern

Music producer Phil Spector looks up during his murder trial in Superior Court July 10, 2007 in Los Angeles. (Gabriel Bouys-Pool/Getty Images/TNS)
Phil Spector, visionary music producer convicted in notorious murder, dies at 81

Phil Spector, the visionary record producer who revolutionized pop music in the… Continue reading

Toni Isabella, a counselor at Ohlhoff Recovery Programs, finds helpful assistance from service dog Barker Posey.<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Toni Isabella: Helping people indoors and out recover from addiction’s dark side

Counselor supports holistic, progressive approach to healing

In recognition of recent news surrounding Donald Trump, here are two peach drinks: Frozy Navel, left, and Peach Gin Fizz. (Saul Sugarman/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Impeached twice? Try these two peach cocktails

Mix these up and toast in hopes of more laughs, lighter times in 2021

Most Read